Sunday, August 10, 2008

Witnessing in Cusco

One blessing of being in Peru is that the people are open to talking about their faith. When the First Christian Missions Team was with us, our time in Cuzco and Machu Picchu turned out to be a significant ministry experience. Everywhere we went, the Lord opened doors of witness for us. The team brought Bibles and we gave many away--showing people important verses and explaining that salvation is the gift of God. The team encouraged me to be more aggressive in personal witness. Two guys I talked with were our guides for the Machu Picchu tour and the Sacred Valley tours--one named Renato and the other, Augusto. Both are of Quechua Indian descent--the mountainous people most closely associated with the Inca empire. Both mentioned worshipping "Mother Earth" while we were there. I asked Renato who Jesus was in his life. He said, "He's a great guy, ... a really great guy."

I said, "Yea, but is he your Lord?"

Renato said, "Yea, ... a lot of the time."

I laughed and said, "I think this whole thing works a lot better when he is your Lord all of the time."

Renato said, "That's really difficult because I'm Quechua."

He was implying that it was incongruent to be a Native American Indian and to also be a Christian. There are two reasons why he thinks that. First, the Spanish conquered the Quechuas and tried to assimilate them--changing their names, their worship practices, their theology, culture and language. The Spanish failed. To this day, the Quechuas lead double lives. They speak Spanish in the market place and Quechua in their homes. They are Catholic in name, but continue to follow the ancient worship practices of their ancestors. To Renato, to become Christian means becoming Spanish. Since the Spanish conquistadors were very cruel and failed to exemplify proper Christian living, becoming like them is not an acceptable option for him. The second reason is Jesus, himself. Romans 9:33 says that Jesus is "the stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." Since Jesus demands exclusive worship and the identity of the Quechua Indians is integrally tied to their worship of the sun and the earth, it is painful even to be confronted with the name of Jesus. I tried to share with him that Jesus created us (not mother earth), and that when we worship him we do not lose our identities. Jesus loves the Quechua Indians. Nonetheless, he is the "name above all names," and does not permit us to even play games that imply we are worshipping the earth or the sun.

He listened, then said, "You know, when I was a teenager, I attended an evangelical youth group."

I thought this was interesting, because it implied that he wasn't a closed to the idea as he had implied previously. I said, "Why'd you quit?"

He said, "Because they were all hypocrites. They sang worship songs in the youth group, then went out drinking afterward."

I told him, "A lot of people talk about being Christian and others can see that they're not, but their failures don't change the truth. Jesus really is the Messiah and we can't tell the Lord that we didn't serve him because other people were phony."

He agreed. He would have talked more, but our train came and the rest of the team were already on it. It was one of those scenes where I had to run and catch the train before it left the station.

Please pray for Renato and Augusto. I think about the book of Revelation, which tells us that there will be people from every tribe and tongue worshipping Jesus. I want Renato and Augusto to be two representatives from the Quechua Indians in that glorious choir.

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